Joseph Severn's letters

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Ennis » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:11 pm

Malia --

That , of course, may be true. But how can we explain Fanny Brawne's situation? We know she nursed John when he lived with the Brawne's prior to his departure from Hampstead (and had closer contact with him before consumption reared its ugly head -- nothing more than innocent kisses, of course, but still. . . ), and she surely helped her mother with her brother. It can only be that some people are predisposed to contract the disease.?
"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." JK to FB 08.07.1819
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Malia » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:52 pm

Well, from what I know of TB, you need to be exposed to it at least twice in order to have a chance at active infection. Also, from Keats's case, a weakened immune system can play a part in turning TB from a dormant to an active case. I know that it was a great stress (losing a business) that brought about the active TB in George Keats--his immune system must have been shocked by the loss. Also, people are individuals; some people have stronger overall constitutions. Fanny Brawne might have been one of those people. It is amazing, though, that she could avoid active infection, especially with her chronic asthma.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Ennis » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:12 pm

Malia --

Exactly! One lucky girl -- at least in matters of health! Matters of the heart -- entirely different, I suppose. (poor thing)
"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." JK to FB 08.07.1819
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Saturn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:04 pm

Well she did marry eventually, she found love in her life, and had children; she couldn't spend her days mourning for Keats, nor should she have, I'm sure she always loved him deep down to her dying day, but life goes on...it must, it has to.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Malia » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:50 pm

Too true, Saturn!
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Raphael » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:01 am

Malia wrote:I think the only *good* thing that came out of Fanny Keats's imprisonment at Abbey's was that she was kept from contagion. Had she been able to live with her brothers (or see them much, much more frequently) she, too, might have contracted TB.


That thought has occurred to me too many times Malia.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Raphael » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:07 am

That , of course, may be true. But how can we explain Fanny Brawne's situation? We know she nursed John when he lived with the Brawne's prior to his departure from Hampstead (and had closer contact with him before consumption reared its ugly head -- nothing more than innocent kisses, of course, but still. . .



Ennis, I don't think it was just pecks on the cheek..not by the way John describes those kisses in his letters... :wink:


It can only be that some people are predisposed to contract the disease.?


I have heard/read that some people have more immunity to it than others- that's why they give the BCG test before immunisation. I had the BCG and had no immunity to it, hence that's why I was immunised at 13. You could be perfectly healthy, strong as an ox yet be struck down with it- Joseph Severn was astonished that John got struck with it as he always saw him as a strong young man.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Raphael » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:11 am

Well, from what I know of TB, you need to be exposed to it at least twice in order to have a chance at active infection. Also, from Keats's case, a weakened immune system can play a part in turning TB from a dormant to an active case.



Yes...he had no natural immunity to it..was exposed to the TB germs twice, was weakened by riding on the outside of coaches, getting soaked through, and was prone to what seems to be chronic tonsilitis. If none of these factors existed he might well have lived to quite an old age.



Also, people are individuals; some people have stronger overall constitutions. Fanny Brawne might have been one of those people. It is amazing, though, that she could avoid active infection, especially with her chronic asthma.



Where did you read she had asthma? From what I have read of her (from John's letters etc) she seemed very healthy and hardly got ill until she was older. I don't know what she died of- the biographies don't say.
John....you did not live to see-
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what it is we are in what we make of you.

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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Malia » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:59 am

At least one biographer says she had what was thought to be chronic asthma; I believe it was Aileen Ward. I'm sure I read it in other bios, too.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Ennis » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:18 pm

Everyone --

Joanna Richardson's biography on Fanny Brawne talks about her asthma, and, Rapahael, I'm sure it wasn't limited to chaste kisses on the cheeks, but based on his other comment, to brown, it wasn't too much more than kissing (and perhaps some fondling, but I'm getting into an area I'm not too sure we need to be "discussing" now. I'm in school [next to the last day] and kids are hanging over my shoulder).
"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." JK to FB 08.07.1819
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Raphael » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:38 am

Malia wrote:At least one biographer says she had what was thought to be chronic asthma; I believe it was Aileen Ward. I'm sure I read it in other bios, too.


Where did they get their sources from? Fanny's family? There is no hint of her having asthma when she was young and was with John- if there was I think the letters would talk of a shared sympathy for symptoms they had in common- breathlessness, fatigue etc. John would write about her being in good health, and only once mentioned he had heard she had been unwell, and Fanny herself wrote to Miss Keats that she never got colds- people with asthma are prone to colds.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Raphael » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:41 am

Ennis wrote: Rapahael, I'm sure it wasn't limited to chaste kisses on the cheeks, but based on his other comment, to brown, it wasn't too much more than kissing (and perhaps some fondling, but I'm getting into an area I'm not too sure we need to be "discussing" now. I'm in school [next to the last day] and kids are hanging over my shoulder).


That's all they were *allowed* to do- kissing and petting. Must have been difficult for both of them.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Ennis » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:02 pm

Raphael --

I'm at school (again) and didn't think to bring my biography of Fanny Brawne by Richardson, so I can't give you any source notes. I'll try to check on this when I get home and log-on, using my brother's computer (I don't have one at home), and let you know. I believe it was also Richardson's biography that says Fanny died from angina pectoris, complicated by her asthma. Which makes sense. According to my dictionary, angina pectoris is "a heart condition mark by brief recurrent attacks of intense chest pain caused by insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart muscles by the blood" (had to look it up in my dictionary -- didn't know what it was, just remembered reading that's how Fanny died).

Both of my brothers have asthma and neither one of them had, or still have, trouble with colds. They were bothered most with allergies, especially my older brother and cat fur!!

Also, remember when he left her for Shanklin that summer of 1819, he writes her and mentions how he hoped she was feeling better . . . maybe that was asthma-related (and I'm not really too sure I have the correct timing of that particular letter. If someone "out there" who has access to his letters would check . . . ). We are missing so much by not having Fanny's letters to John -- although if we did (and believe me, I sure wish we did!!), I'm afraid I'd feel more like a voyeur that I already do when I read his letters to her.
"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." JK to FB 08.07.1819
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby Raphael » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:05 pm

Raphael --

I'm at school (again) and didn't think to bring my biography of Fanny Brawne by Richardson, so I can't give you any source notes. I'll try to check on this when I get home and log-on, using my brother's computer (I don't have one at home), and let you know. I believe it was also Richardson's biography that says Fanny died from angina pectoris, complicated by her asthma. Which makes sense. According to my dictionary, angina pectoris is "a heart condition mark by brief recurrent attacks of intense chest pain caused by insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart muscles by the blood" (had to look it up in my dictionary -- didn't know what it was, just remembered reading that's how Fanny died).


Thanks Ennis- poor Fanny, if this was so. What was the source of this info from the book? Her family.


Both of my brothers have asthma and neither one of them had, or still have, trouble with colds. They were bothered most with allergies, especially my older brother and cat fur!!


I know this is also a problem for those with asthma. I've got eczema, get hayfever ( but not in the past two summers as they have been so rainy and the homeopathy I have been taking for it for years means each year the hayfever is getting less and less) and I'm allergic to and cat dog fur also. I don't get asthma thank goodness! I've known some people with asthma bein g careful not to get colds as it means complications if they do.



Also, remember when he left her for Shanklin that summer of 1819, he writes her and mentions how he hoped she was feeling better . . . maybe that was asthma-related (and I'm not really too sure I have the correct timing of that particular letter. If someone "out there" who has access to his letters would check . . . ).



John never made any hints as to Fanny having asthma and with his medical knowledge one would think he would have- you know how he was always giving his friends medical advice...
I'm inclined to think she didn't have it when younger.


We are missing so much by not having Fanny's letters to John



True..I'd love to know how affectionately she wrote to him and what she would write about to him- we can glean some of it by what he wrote to her though.


although if we did (and believe me, I sure wish we did!!), I'm afraid I'd feel more like a voyeur that I already do when I read his letters to her.


I know what you mean- but he seemed to know his letters would be made public after his passing- he even says so to Fanny in one of them.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Joseph Severn's letters

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:14 am

Ennis - nicely said. We all would love to have read Fanny's letters to John - well, most of them at least. It does make me feel like a voyeur a bit to read the letters. I secretly hope that someday a few more letters will be found hiding in an attic somewhere in London...

Hey, it could happen.
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